Fall is for Soup!

Let’s start this post on an adorable note. Look at my new salt and pepper shakers!!!

They were $0.99 each at Cracker Barrel!

They were $0.99 each at Cracker Barrel!

Pumpkins, turning leaves, cooler weather, Halloween, Thanksgiving – there are so many things to love about Fall! And soup is definitely on my Things I Love About Fall list. That being said, I think you can guess how excited I am about this:

My first soup tureen!

My first soup tureen!

My mother just got a new pumpkin soup tureen from Pier1, so I inherited this beauty! Now, I have to make soup. There’s just no way around it. 🙂

  1. Zesty Pumpkin Soup with Orange Sour Cream
  2. Chicken & Gnocchi Soup
  3. Bratwurst & Beer Cheese Soup

There are some trusted favorites, and some brand new recipes I’ve never tried. Stay tuned over the next several weeks as I cook my way through this list!

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Chocolate and Salted Caramel Mug Cake

Back from my burnout! And it’s time to resume my 7-Day Microwave Mug Challenge! I am putting off Meatloaf in a Cup, once again. Let’s have dessert: Chocolate and Salted Caramel Mug Cake!

I have high hopes that the salted caramel aspect will set this mug cake apart. To be honest, the Brownie in a Mug and Nutella Mug Cake ended up tasting pretty similar. Delicious — but similar.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg – beaten
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 salted caramels

1) In a small bowl, beat the egg. Add the milk and vegetable oil. Whisk until combined.

2) In a regular sized mug, combine the  flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

3) Pour the wet ingredients into the mug. Stir until smooth.

4) Drop the caramels into center of the mug, one at a time. I didn’t have salted caramels, just plain old Kraft caramels, so I simply sprinkled a pinch of sea salt on top of the caramels as I added them.

3) Microwave on high for 1 minute and 30 seconds.

Here is the original from The Family Kitchen at Babble.com.

TheFamilyKitchen

TheFamilyKitchen

And, here is how mine turned out:

ShinyHappyPeebles

ShinyHappyPeebles

Salted Caramel Chocolate Mug Cake

Chocolate and Salted Caramel Mug Cake

The best part is the caramel. I would actually recommend adding 3 caramels to the mix.

Unfortunately, this recipe did not stand out as I had hoped. It was good, but not different enough. I must admit I am bored with mug cakes for now. Oh, well. It’s probably for the best. I’m going through flour and cocoa powder much too quickly!

Birds’ Nests

Happy Easter! To celebrate, here’s another Pinterest Challenge I’ve been saving: Birds’ Nests. Check out the original recipe by The Curvy Carrot here. Her version makes 12 servings, so I just doubled the recipe since I have several family functions to attend!

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces (1/2 bag) of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 ounces (1/2 bag) of butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6 ounces (1/2 of a large bag) of chow mein noodles
  • 36 mini Cadbury eggs

1) Grease the wells of a muffin pan with butter or shortening.

2) In a large pot, melt the peanut butter and the chocolate and butterscotch chips. The original recipe says to microwave, but I’m always wary of burning chocolate. Stir on low heat until smooth and completely combined.

It's like the opening scene to Willy Wonka!

It’s like the opening scene to Willy Wonka!

3) Add the chow mein noodles, stirring carefully until completely coated.

4) Using a large spoon, fill the wells of your muffin tin, indenting the tops slightly with the back of the spoon. Press in three cadbury eggs on each nest. The original recipe says to add the eggs at the very end once the nests are chilled, but I prefer them to be slightly secured to the chocolate coating.

5) Chill the nests for 1 hour, or until hardened.

Relatively easy instructions, but I will say this is definitely a messy recipe — though I didn’t really mind having to lick chocolate or peanut butter off my fingers!

TheCurvyCarrot's Birds' Nests

TheCurvyCarrot’s Birds’ Nests

After tasting them, I think these are more appropriately catergorized as a candy versus a cookie.

ShinyHappyPeebles's Birds' Nests

ShinyHappyPeebles’s Birds’ Nests

ShinyHappyPeebles' Birds' Nests

ShinyHappyPeebles’ Birds’ Nests

Now, halfway through making these I realized I only have one muffin tin … so the last half of the batch looks more like nests for baby pterodactyls.

It's the Easter pterodactyl!

It’s the Easter pterodactyl!

It's the Easter Pterodactyl!

Actually, these look even more like real nests.

Pinterest WIN on this one, for sure! I think this is the closest I’ve come to making something that actually looks like the beautiful picture with the original recipe. An Easter miracle, indeed!

I’m in a Mug!

Unfortunately, my big exciting DIY project for this weekend is on hold due to rain. Lots of rain. And humidity. Spray paint doesn’t do so well in these conditions. 😦

Never fear! Thanks to a post by a Facebook friend, I have been inspired to take on a 7-Day Challenge. Behold! This article lists out 18 microwave snacks you can make in a mug. Anyone remember my Brownie in a Mug post?

Why, oh why, didn’t I stumble across this post in college? C’est la vie! While all of these snacks look delicious, I have selected 7 recipes to try. I will make one a day for the next week with a blog post to report on the outcome.

7-Day Microwave Mug Challenge:

  1. Coffee Cup Quiche
  2. French Toast in a Cup
  3. Banana Bread in a Mug
  4. Mac and Cheese in a Cup
  5. Meatloaf in a Cup
  6. Nutella Mug Cake
  7. Chocolate and Caramel Mug Cake

Who knows — maybe one of these will become a household favorite and find it’s way into my big, red cookbook. 🙂

Big, Red Cookbook

Big, Red Cookbook

Pretzel Jello Salad

Happy Valentine’s Day! As a present to my sweetie for an awesome day, I made one of his favorite desserts: Pretzel Jello Salad!

Now, the family recipe I have is for Strawberry Pretzel Jello Salad, but I have created my own version, Peach Pretzel Jello Salad. That’s the wonderful thing about this recipe, though; you can really do any variation of fruit and Jello!

First, get the cream cheese out and put it in a mixing bowl to soften. I always forget to do this! Don’t forget to do this, unless you really enjoy softening the cream cheese by creaming it for five minutes. Hand cramp, anyone?

For the crust, you’ll need:

  • 2 cups crushed pretzel twists
  • 1 and 1/2 sticks butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Crush the pretzels into small pieces, add in the sugar, and then pour in the melted butter. Stir until the pretzel pieces are well-coated in sugary goodness.

Sugary Goodness

Sugary Goodness

Pour the mixture into a 9X13 baking dish (I usually spray it lightly with Pam) and then use the back of a wooden spoon to pat the pretzels down into an even layer. It should look like this:

Pretzel Crust

Pretzel Crust

Cook at 350° for 10 minutes. Let it cool completely (no refrigeration) before putting on the next layer. Let me just say, this crust is to die for. If this came in candy bar form, I’d be in trouble!

For the middle layer, you’ll need:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 9 oz Kool Whip (French Vanilla is the best!)

Combine the sugar and cream cheese first. Once they are well-mixed, fold in the Kool Whip.

Don't over mix!

Don’t over mix!

When the pretzel crust is cool, spread the cream cheese mixture over it. Make sure to seal the edges of the dish; this prevents the jello from seeping through the layers.

For the Jello layer, you’ll need:

  • 6 oz flavored Jello (in this case, Peach)
  • 2 cups pineapple juice
  • 20 – 30 oz frozen or canned fruit (in this case, sliced peaches)

To make Strawberry Pretzel Jello Salad, use 20 oz of frozen strawberries from the freezer section and Strawberry flavored Jello. For my Peach version, use two 15 oz cans of sliced peaches in lite syrup and Peach flavored Jello. Drain all the liquid from the peaches and cut them into bite size pieces. Then, let them sit in the freezer while you prepare the rest of the Jello layer.

Microwave the pineapple juice for about 3-4 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine the hot juice and Jello. Stir until dissolved. Then add the chilled peaches (or fruit of your choosing). Depending on how the Jello sets, you may need to pop the bowl in the refrigerator for 5 minutes. When the Jello starts to thicken, pour over the top of the cream cheese layer. And make sure the fruit pieces are evenly distributed across the top.

Jello Layer

Jello Layer

After that, it’s the waiting game! Let the dessert set in the refrigerator for a few hours. Cutting the slices is a bit of a wrestle because of the caramelized pretzel crust, but it is soooooo worth it! And it may not come out pretty, but your taste buds won’t care!

Peach Pretzel Jello Salad

Peach Pretzel Jello Salad